Tag Archives: Basilan

Lanao Del Norte Ambush

24 Oct

3 Soldiers were killed in an ambush in Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao Del Norte. according to report posted by Philippine Daily Inquirer on October 23, 2011;

COTABATO City, Philippines—Suspected Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels on Sunday killed three soldiers in an ambush in Sultan Naga Dimaporo in Lanao del Norte.

Three soldiers under the military’s 5th Infantry Battalion were wounded in the same incident, Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, told the Inquirer by phone.

Cabangbang said that troops, headed by Lt. Col. Bagnun Gearlan, were heading to the nearby town of Malabang, Lanao del Sur, when they were ambushed around 11:15 a.m. along the highway in the village of Payong in Sultan Naga Dimaporo town.

Cabangbang said the attackers later fled toward the village shoreline.

“We are still trying to figure out if MILF rebels perpetrated the attacks,” Cabangbang said.

Von Al Haq, spokesman for the rebel group, denied that their forces were involved in the latest assault against government troops.

“We are investigating. But as of yesterday (Saturday), the directive to all our forces on the ground is to maintain our defensive position,” he said.

Earlier on October 21, Moro rebels killed seven troops in three ambushes in Zamboanga Sibugay and on October 19, MILF fighters killed 19 soldiers in an ambush they staged in the town of Al Barka in Basilan province.

On Saturday, some 150 suspected MILF rebels reportedly occupied two schools in Talusan town in Zamboanga Sibugay.

In one of the latest eruptions of violence in Mindanao on Sunday, suspected Muslim rebels also killed five rubber plantation workers on Basilan island, according to a report by Agence France Presse.

“Five were killed in this morning’s ambush,” regional military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang said, according to the AFP wire report.

So much had happened for the month of October 2011 in mindanao. Last October 3, 2011 the NPA rebels attack the Taganito Mining Site in Surigao, instead of condemning the attacks President Aquino relieved the Police Commanders due to negligence. The NPA next attacked a banana plantation in Surigao the government again called this as an isolated case.

October 18, 2011 carnage of the Military was the most deadliest made by Mindanao rebels, and  MILF followed-up this with the ambush at Zamboanga Sibugay after 2 days. Again the government called this as just an isolated cases, and has yet to issue condemning the ambushes being made by MILF. While the Military was on its low morale the MILF again attacks anew, ambushing a group of soldiers this time at Lanao Del Norte.

The military were being ambush and killed in all fronts and yet the President has yet to issue a statement condemning the attacks because of His policy of peace. Peace talk should be suspended until the MILF has surrendered the culprit.

While the Aquino administration is bent on pursuing lasting peace in Mindanao, He should not let his armed forces be killed, this would just make them demoralized. By issuing statements condemning the attacks made by rebels at least would boost the morale of his men, and not by lashing due to negligence. Our government should make their stand during peace talk negotiations, and the interest of the majority must be the priority and not the MILF’s interest as Mindanao population is not purely Muslims, there are Christians also.

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MILF clashes again anew

22 Oct

As the Basilan clash between the military and MILF were still fresh from the minds of the Filipino people, and are still being investigated by the Philippine government, a new bloody encounter has been reported again between the military and the MILF this time it was in Zamboanga Sibugay. This time the casualties are 7 soldiers and policemen and 7 other wounded and 1 soldier reported missing. According to the news posted at Philippine Star website, dated October 22, 2011 ;

MANILA, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) escalated its attacks on government forces, killing seven soldiers and policemen with seven others wounded and another soldier missing in Zamboanga Sibugay late Thursday.

The attacks came two days after MILF forces killed 19 soldiers in Basilan in one of the worst outbreaks of violence that brought the death toll among security forces to 26.

Col. Santiago Baluyot, chief of the Army’s 102nd Brigade, yesterday said the rebels ambushed two military convoys in Barangay Gulayon in Alicia town and a separate attack against a joint military-police patrol in Simbol, Kabasalan town.

Baluyot said the convoy was on its way back to headquarters in Ipil town when it was attacked.

MILF spokesman Von al Haq said the rebels did carry out the assaults, which he said were in retaliation for the military’s alleged “indiscriminate shelling” of Muslim villages.

And Philippine Daily Inquirer’s report posted on its website dated October 22, 2011;

MILF admits killing 7 more troops in 3 attacks

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—Seven soldiers and policemen were killed in three separate attacks in Zamboanga Sibugay province late Thursday, bringing to 26 the death toll among government forces in one of the worst outbreaks of violence in strife-torn Mindanao this week.

Ten others were wounded in the attacks, barely two days after 19 soldiers were killed during a fight with the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Basilan province.

The MILF immediately admitted that its forces had staged Thursday’s attacks in Alicia and Kabasalan towns, but claimed these were in retaliation for military actions there.

The attacks occurred over a four-hour span within a 60-kilometer radius.

Four soldiers were killed and six wounded in the first ambush which occurred at about 7:21 p.m. in Barangay Gulayon in Alicia town, said Brig. Gen. Santiago Baluyot, commander of the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade.

Two hours later, a soldier was wounded in an MILF ambush on a military truck in Ipil town, and three policemen were killed in a third ambush near midnight in Kabasalan town. Two policemen and one soldier were wounded in the third attack.

“The police and the Army were conducting joint operation in Zamboanga Sibugay,” explained Chief Supt. Elpidio de Asis, the Western Mindanao police chief.

Before the Kabasalan ambush, Baluyot said an improvised bomb exploded in a vacant lot near the port of Malangas but nobody was hurt.

De Asis said a similar explosion also occurred in Imelda town, but no one was injured.

Retaliatory attacks

In Cotabato City, MILF spokesperson Von al Haq said the MILF rebels staged the series of ambushes in Zamboanga Sibugay because the military had been pounding rebel positions in Payao town since Saturday.

“That’s the consequences of their action. It’s retaliation, part of war. Soldiers have been indiscriminately pounding our position and civilian areas in Payao town,” Al Haq said in a phone interview.

However, the attacks on Alicia and Kabasalan, which were led by Alloy, a commander under the MILF’s 114th Base Command, was not coordinated with the MILF central committee, Al Haq said.

“The action of our men was not organizational. It means the order to attack did not come from the central committee. It was their decision,” he said.

Al Haq said the MILF’s ceasefire committee has been working with its government counterpart to defuse the tensions.

On Tuesday, 19 soldiers were killed in a clash with MILF rebels in Al-Barka, Basilan, while on a mission to arrest a local MILF commander, Dan Laksaw Asnawi.

The military had said Asnawi was a fugitive. Asnawi, who operates under the MILF’s 114th Base Command, was charged with involvement in the beheading and mutilation of Marine soldiers, also in Al-Barka, in 2007.

He was arrested but escaped from the Basilan provincial jail, along with more than two dozen inmates, in December 2009.

Military air strikes

In Olutangga, Zamboanga Sibugay, parish priest Fr. Felmar Castrodes said he had been informed by villagers that the military had conducted air strikes against MILF forces in Payao town on Friday.

He said the air strikes started 4 p.m. Friday and were reported to him by residents of the villages bordering Payao and Olutangga towns.

“They feared that the violence would spread to their town,” he said in a text message.

The report could not immediately be verified. The military spokesperson based in Zamboanga City could not be reached for comment.

US drone deployed?

In Cotabato City, United States soldiers stationed in Zamboanga City under the Visiting Forces Agreement have started providing help to the military in locating the MILF rebel group responsible for the deaths of 19 soldiers in Al-Barka, Basilan, a military source said on Friday.

The source, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said the US forces have deployed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over Basilan to track down the group of Asnawi.

“They are providing us information from what they obtained through their unmanned aerial vehicle,” the source said.

But Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City, has denied the information.

Cabangbang said he was not aware of any request made for the deployment of a UAV in Basilan.

“Besides, it would be useless because of the forest cover. UAVs are effective in open terrain but not over areas that have many trees,” he said.

Cabangbang said any data gathered by a thermal-equipped UAV would be useless because humans have basically the same thermal signature.

“It would not help distinguish who the enemies are and who are not,” he said.

Other MILF groups

Meanwhile, Basilan Vice Gov. Al Rasheed Sakalahul said his office had received information that armed elements from neighboring towns were converging in support of the MILF rebels in Al-Barka.

“These MILF members are from Sumisip, Tuburan and Tipo-tipo,” he said.

Sakalahul also dismissed a statement from Cabangbang that the MILF rebels that had clashed with military troops on Tuesday in Al-Barka might have been reinforced by armed locals.

“It’s not fair, knowing my people, if there’s an encounter, they will make sure they are far from harm, they will secure their lives and properties,” he said.

Despite the consecutive loses from the military forces in just a couple of days, President Benigno S. Aquino III stood firm on his policy not to engage an all-out war against the MILF, and has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to continue observing the ceasefire agreement with the MILF.

The recent attacks prompted lawmakers to review the government’s position on the MILF. Senator Lacson said that President Aquino should consider the all-out war policy against the MILF just like what former President Joseph Estrada did in 2000. As Senator Lacson said ” It’s time for Pnoy to do an Erap. Peace in Mindanao cannot be achieved unless a tactical victory is attained first by AFP”.

Lacson also said that the belligerence of the MILF was brought about by the policy taken by the government to give the organization special treatment as part of the peace process even after it committed various atrocities in the past.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada also called for the immediate use of military force against the MILF considering the damage that they have done over the past days.

Estrada raised his doubts about the sincerity of the MILF in the ongoing peace negotiations after its move to attack government troops.

Administration and opposition lawmakers at the House of Representatives supported Aquino’s decisión not to launch an all-out war against the MILF.

But some warned Aquino against demoralizing the AFP and surrendering the country’s territorial integrity

Sulu Rep. Nur-Ana Sahidulla said the government must continue to reach out to the separatist group despite its reported atrocities as waging an all-out war would pose greater problems.

Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong said the position taken by Aquino showed his resolve to achieve lasting peace.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. backed the President’s decision but also underscored the need for the government to intensify its campaign against the perpetrators.

“PNoy was correct and I support his decision. We should pursue the peace. But take action against the perpetrators,” Belmonte said.

Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said the peace negotiations with the MILF should still be allowed to continue and let the existing ceasefire mechanisms take care of the recent incidents between the MILF and government forces.

Sen. Francis Escudero, for his part, called on the AFP to conduct an immediate and total review of its actual troop strength versus its troop ceiling in the wake of the separate attacks by the MILF.

The fresh fighting has further complicated efforts to end one of Asia’s longest insurgencies, with the MILF and the military accusing each other of breaking a ceasefire in place to promote peace talks.

Guingona said the ceasefire mechanisms should immediately respond to the situation and “address the wrongs of the encounter and make accountable those who made the offense.”

“This kind of tragedy delays the resolution of the peace process. Delays lessen the confidence of the people for the peace process and risk its failure,” Guingona said.

“This could not be allowed to happen because the longer it takes for us to resolve the problem the more violence it breeds. Violence must stop, rule of law and justice should be the order of the day,” he added. Government peace negotiator Leonen said he would not recommend a suspension of the ceasefire agreement with the MILF.

“We are continually assessing how MILF is complying with our ceasefire agreements. As long as there is a flicker of hope, we have to try it. (Otherwise) I would be first to recommend to President Aquino this is not working,” he said.

There are some talks that the military were already demoralized with what the President’s stand and the way he was disappointed with the military with the recent clashes with MILF. Colonel Antonio Parlade, Philippine Army Spokesman, had suggested in a recent press conference that the Government should declare a temporary suspension of the ceasefire agreement with MILF to allow the military to pursue those responsible for the October 18, 2011 encounter in Al Barka, Basilan.

Instead of hearing the side of Colonel Parlade, Colonel Parlade was relieved of his position. President Aquino’s deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said that spokespersons are not supposed to announce their personal opinion to the public. “The fact remains that as spokespersons we are not policy makers… We are suposed to stick to what the policy is. It should be clear that as spokespersons of the government, we cannot give our personal opinion,” Valte said in an interview over state-run radio, Radyo ng Bayan.

According to Colonel Parlade in a phone interview, “I stand by my statement… I was just echoing the sentiments of the soldiers,” adding that his proposal for the suspension of talks with the separatist group was also his personal opinion. Parlade said that he has “no bad feelings” against the military leadership for his relief. Parlade is one of the three military colonels who have been ordered relieved following the killing of the 19 Army Special Forces members in Sitio Bakisung, Barangay Cambug. The other two officials ordered relieved were Col. Alexander Macario, commander of the Special Operations Task Force of the Philippine Army, and Lt. Col. Leo Peña, commanding officer of the 4th Special Forces Battalion. Peña was ordered relieved a day after the encounter. Macario was relieved for allegedly committing “operational lapses.”

So much for a weakling President, being the Commander in Chief, who always prefer to wear yellow of which by the way means Cowardice, who stand by his policies of attaining peace while His men were being killed on all fronts, while the rebels exploits the ceasefire agreement.

Let us just hope that with the recent attacks that happened, General  Mabanta’s word that the military is not demoralized is true and that he speaks with the sentiments of the soldiers and junior officers for they are at the forefront of the battle unlike this General who just sit in the comfort of his air-conditioned room while the lives of his men are on the line.

And here’s also hoping that the coup de etat’s that happened during the first Aquino administration would not happen in the second Aquino administration.

To all our Soldiers, stay safe always.